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Grand Rapids Business Journal's 2018 Newsmakers of the Year Breakfast

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The Grand Rapids Business Journal reporting team will soon be determining the top news stories of 2018 — and the people behind the headlines. On January 30, 2019, GRBJ will host a breakfast event and award 16 "Newsmakers" from the categories shown below.

Arts & Entertainment

Jori Bennett, ArtPrize
Rich MacKeigan, SMG
Tavian Napier, Western Michigan University


Brian Mucci and Brandon Joldersma, Coppercraft Distillery
Jon O'Connor and Kyle Van Strien, Long Road Distillers
Mark Sellers, HopCat

Economic Development

Dave Alexander, Downtown Muskegon Now
George Haga, Ada Township
Birgit Klohs, The Right Place


Thomas Haas, Grand Valley State University
Edward Montgomery, Western Michigan University
Dale Nesbary, Muskegon Community College


Jeff Helminski and Jack Kolodny, Auxo Investment Partners
Kelly Potes, ChoiceOne Bank
Tom Welch, Fifth Third Bank


Robert Schermer Jr., Meritage Hospitality Group
David Staples, SpartanNash
Rich Wolowski, Gordon Food Service

Health Care

Robert Casalou, Trinity Health Michigan
Tina Freese Decker, Spectrum Health
Bill Hughson, Blue Sky Vision


Tania "Dee Dee" Fuller, Fuller Law and Counseling
Floyd Gates Jr., Bodman PLC
Deborah Hughes, Legal Assistance Center


Troy Comiskey, General Motors
Kevin Lobo, Stryker
Matt Missad, Universal Forest Products


Amy Acton, Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors
Annemarie Valdez, First Steps Kent
Ryan VerWys, Inner City Christian Federation

Real Estate/Construction

Aaron Jonker and Curt Mulder, Wolverine Building Group
Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction
John Wheeler, Orion Construction


Chris Baker, Betten Baker Automotive Group
Rick Keyes, Meijer
Diane Maher, Fox Motors


Lew Chamberlin, West Michigan Whitecaps
Mike Guswiler, West Michigan Sports Commission
Russ Hines, River Bank Events and Media


Tom Guarr and Jack Johnson, Jolt Energy
Mario Rodriguez-Garcia, Soldadera Coffee
Katarina Samardzija, Locker Lifestyle


Elissa Sangalli Hillary, Local First
John Scholtz, Ottawa County Parks
John and Melissa Ziech, RecycleBoxBin


Brian DeMuth, GRIMM
Mark Johnson, Michigan Software Labs
Michael Rutherford, Rutherford & Associates


One of these Newsmaker category winners will then be elevated to the 2018 Newsmaker of the Year.

Program Timeline
7:30 - 8:30am
Registration opens; breakfast and networking

8:30 - 9:30am
Awards presentation

Parking included in ticket price.

Grand Rapids Business Journal's 2018 Newsmakers of the Year Breakfast
  • Times:  7:30 AM - 9:30 AM
  • January 30, 2019 to January 30, 2019
  • Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
  • See website for details.